BU's John Papale Traveling To UConn For A Home Game

John Papale has been directing BU's offensive this season and will go against UConn on Sunday. (Steve McLaughlin)

STORRS — This is the time of year when teams come to play UConn with little to lose. Boston University is one of those teams, and John Papale of Wallingford is set to come to Gampel and let it fly.

"It's going to be pretty cool to come to UConn and play," said Papale, a sophomore who has been a starter since midway through last season. "We're excited to see if we can play with those guys; we think we can. But whatever happens, we have to learn from it and we have to look at the big picture. It's only one game, and we have a whole season to play."

The Terriers (2-0), who have beaten Northeastern and UMass Lowell, come to Gampel for the second phase of the 2K Classic and play the No. 19 Huskies (3-0) at noon Sunday. UConn began the 2K, which benefits the Wounded Warrior Foundation, with a 101-55 victory over Detroit on Thursday. Regardless of the outcomes of these on-campus games, UConn, Boston College, Indiana and Washington will advance to play at Madison Square Garden in New York on Nov. 21 and 22

Papale, 6 feet 3 and 190 pounds, worked his way to BU with his ability as an outside shooter. During his time at Choate-Rosemary Hall, he was ranked among the top 25 three-point shooters in his recruiting class by ESPN.

"Our dad was a good shooter in college," said John's brother, Mike Papale, director of basketball operations for coach Tom Moore at Quinnipiac. "So we all got the genes."

The Papale patriarch, Michael, played at Assumption and scored more than 1,000 points before the advent of the three-point line. John Papale broke into BU's starting lineup as a freshman guard, starting 14 games, hitting 65 of 155 three-point attempts (41.9 percent) and averaging 9.3 points. His breakthrough games were 19 points in a win over Vermont and 18 in a win over Albany, and he was on America East's all-rookie team.

This summer, he worked at diversifying his game, on attacking defenders to keep them honest and driving to the rim.

"I'm more aggressive off the dribble," he said. "I think at this point, people know I can shoot the three, that's what I do well. I need to be able to do more things to be able to help the team."

He is off to a slow start from the perimeter, 2-for-9 on threes, but in BU's opener, Papale hit a three-pointer down the stretch and also hit three big free throws during a come-from-behind, 72-69 win against Northeastern before 6,037 at the TD Garden.

"That was probably the highlight so far," he said.

John's brother was not surprised to see him make important shots.

"He rarely shows much emotion," Mike Papale said. "He doesn't get too high when he makes shots, he doesn't get down when he misses. That's a good thing, I think. When he hits a really big shot, he might get a little fired up."

Papale hasn't declared a major yet, but he is thinking about finance and perhaps law school down the road. Right now, he's living the life — college in Boston, shooting threes, dinner in the North End and, as a lifelong Red Sox fan, following the run to the World Series at close range.

"I couldn't go to the parade, though," he said. "… We had a scrimmage that day."

And he is part of a tight-knit team.

"This is a very unselfish team," he said. "We like to share the ball. What's special about this team, nobody cares who scores or who plays the most, everybody just wants to win."

Senior Dom Morris (19.5 point average), a 6-7 forward, and Maurice Watson Jr., (17 ppg), a 5-10 guard, are the Terriers' top scorers. They're a small, quick team that figures to be competitive against opponents in the revamped Patriot League. BU has been to seven NCAA Tournaments, the last in 2011, and that's what John Papale is after now.

"Every player wants to play in the NCAA Tournament during his career," he said. "We competed for a chance to go to the tournament nearly every year and now, in the Patriot League, I don't think that will change."

There will probably be 20 to 25 family members and friends at the game Sunday.

"We have a lot of friends who are UConn alums," Mike Papale said. "They all say they're rooting for John to have a good game, but for [BU] to lose. We're all just so proud of John, for what kind of kid he is and how hard he's worked to get where he is in basketball."